After 17 hours of research evaluating 30 products, we picked J-pillow Travel Pillow as our top choice.
Americans fly a lot! Last year, 713 million passengers boarded planes in the United States. And if you're among those numbers, you’ve probably considered a travel neck pillow at some point.
If you’re flying coast to coast, or take even just one international flight per year, you should at least consider an airplane pillow. The more often you travel – and the longer those flights are – the more likely you need one.
But, you don’t want any old pillow!
We get it! There are a lot of cool options available on the market – and they’re not more expensive than the old U-shaped pillow gathering dust in the closet. Indeed, if you waited until you were at the airport to buy a travel neck pillow – you probably paid more.
These pillows will change your life… well, how you sleep on planes at least.
You wouldn’t expect airplane pillows to be as wildly useful as they are – and we have found the absolute best travel pillows on the market now.
(Incidentally, we’ve also found the best gadgets for international travelers if you’re planning a big trip anytime soon.)
Now, on to the list! We guarantee we've got something for everyone.
This inflatable travel neck pillow includes a barrier to light (and prying neighbors) and it’s relatively inexpensive.
You won’t get a huge amount of neck support and you can’t tuck it into your washing machine.
Okay, this feature from Shark Tank isn’t going to provide you with the support that other travel pillows will. But, it does offer some privacy – well, at least the ability to block out light with the drawstring hoodie. And, for an inflatable travel neck pillow, it’s actually far more comfortable than most. That’s because of the sweatshirt fabric used as a cover.
It’s also sold at a reasonable price and comes with a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty. But there are some cons to this travel pillow – namely your inability to toss it in the washing machine. Then again, it’s not ideal for frequent flyers and cross-continental travelers – so perhaps that features isn't as important with this pillow.
While the support is lacking, it’s actually a reasonably priced inflatable travel neck pillow – especially for those that prefer a dark space without those plastic eye covers.
What’s it made of? The cover is made from a blend of cotton (80%) and polyester (20%).
What support does it offer? You’ll get some neck support, though perhaps not as much as you would like.
How do you wash it? Sadly, you’ll need to hand wash and line dry this travel pillow.
How big is it? 12.6 x 1 x 0.1”
How much does it weigh? 5.6 oz
What colors are available? Black, blue, pink, red, and grey
Will it break the bank? At $20, it’s less than average – though you should expect that given the light support this pillow provides.
This budget airplane pillow has a removable back insert to stop your head from being pushed forward on those high-backed seats. There’s also an elastic strap so you can attach it quickly to the extendable handle of your carry on luggage.
You can’t compact this pillow. Plus, it’s really rather basic and you can expect it to bleed in the wash.
If you’re on a strict budget – or you really just need something for the one short flight you take annually, this is a good option. But, we can’t say it’s perfect for long hauls or regular travelers.
For a start, the memory foam inside doesn’t provide complete support – or at least not enough for most people. And yet, you can’t compact it like some competitors. So it’s not small or supportive. But there are a few features which set this apart from the super-cheap inflatable options.
There is an insert in the back which can be removed so your head isn’t pushed forward. And, there’s an elastic strap that makes it easy to attach it to your carry on luggage. It’s also softer than inflatable options. But, other than that, you shouldn’t expect much – except for a lower price.
What’s it made of? The velour cover is a combination of cotton (75%) and polyester (25%); it covers high-quality memory foam.
What support does it offer? Specifically supports your neck.
How do you wash it? Feel free to remove the insert (through the zippered opening) and machine wash the cover.
How big is it? 11 x 12 x 3.8”
How much does it weigh? 5.9 oz
What colors are available? Dark blue and grey
Will it break the bank? Nope. This is the best budget offering out there. You should expect to pay about $13-15. That’s about half the average price as most travel pillows.
There’s a super cool inflating mechanism included with this pillow – and it provides much better support than any other inflatable pillow. Plus, it’s super compact when deflated.
Without the extra cover, it’s not terribly comfortable. Nor is it machine washable.
This doesn’t look like other inflatable airplane pillows. That’s because it’s in a class of its own. The length of this pillow provides complete lateral support which makes it perfect for chronic pain sufferers who must travel. (What’s pain compared to visiting family?) It just provides that extra bit of support.
When deflated, it’s super compact and can be snapped onto the handle of your carry on which makes it far more portable than some of the other unusually shaped models. And, you shouldn’t let the size of this travel neck pillow – and therefore the energy (or breath) needed to inflate it – discourage you. There’s a handy little mechanism to make that easier than imagined. (No really, you have to see it.)
Additionally, you can attach this to your headrest or just prop it up on your body. But, it is an inflatable pillow and the surface is not really as comfortable as you want it to be. There is an additional cover available which makes it way more user-friendly; but it will set you back an additional $20 or so. That said, the benefits might just outweigh the price.
What’s it made of? It’s a synthetic plastic with a sort of velvety finish. We strongly suggest the additional cover for long-haul comfort.
What support does it offer? It promotes proper alignment while preventing your head from falling forward.
How do you wash it? You can only wipe it clean, which isn’t terribly convenient. But, we’re willing to overlook it because of the excellent support.
How big is it? Inflated, it measures 26 x 7.9 x 5.9”. Deflated and properly rolled, this travel pillow measures a mere 9 x 3 x 2”.
How much does it weigh? 6.5 oz
What colors are available? Blue, red, grey, and moss
Will it break the bank? You should expect to pay about $26 which falls within the average range of travel pillows, though on the higher side of it. Still, it’s a very reasonable price – unless you get that extra cover.
This travel neck pillow is super lightweight and very compact. It also has a machine washable cover and many people love the way it looks.
Some users definitely find it too warming or too constricting. Additionally, it’s not great for people with long necks or slopping shoulders.
The first thing you’re going to notice when you see this travel neck pillow is it looks remarkably like a scarf. So, you may not think it looks as goofy as your traditional U-shaped travel pillow. Others believe this actually makes people look goofier; but they’re still fans of the comfortable support. It’s totally a matter of personal preference here; you’ll either love or hate the way it looks.
Either way, we think you should look right past the appearance of this and consider the functionality of it Essentially this is a neck brace tucked into a fleecy covering. There’s a sort of bracket that props onto your shoulders, and then props up your neck on the same side by creating a cradle for your cheek and chin.
It provides excellent support, but only on one side. If you want to move your head, you will need to unwrap the scarf covering and unfasten the velcro, then flip the whole thing over and wind it up again. That can be a pain – as can the heat on your neck. But this travel neck pillow is washable, so you don’t need to worry about the sweat smell. We do wish it were a little cheaper though.
What’s it made of? A wonderfully soft hypo-allergenic fleece.
What support does it offer? The neck brace design does exactly what you would expect it to – support your neck. At least on one side.
How do you wash it? This neck pillow is machine washable.
How big is it? 7.5 x 7.5 x 3.7”
How much does it weigh? 4.8 oz – that’s really quite light for a travel pillow.
What colors are available? Black, red, grey, coral
Will it break the bank? It’s a little higher than the average of about $25, but not by much – and it’s certainly not the most expensive out there.
The neck toggles on this travel neck pillow allow adjustments for your perfect level of support, and the compression travel bag and accessories are a nice touch. But the best parts of this item are the ventilation holes.
Either the adjustment toggles need to go in the back or you may find it’s a little too thick and stiff.
As you may have noticed, there are plenty of average travel neck pillows available these days. And, many have incorporated memory foam into the mix. But there is something that sets this one apart from the crowd – the ventilation holes in the foam. It may seem like a small thing until you manage to get sweaty on a long flight. It really does help to have these holes and we have to wonder why more people don’t try them.
That’s not the only benefit to this travel pillow. We also like the toggles that allow you to adjust the support. But, we need to add some caveats to that statement. The toggles don’t close the pillow completely – and if you were to use this pillow with the toggles in the front, that eliminates chin control. You can flip it around, of course, and we suggest that. If you don’t, your neck can become stiff from the bulge of the memory foam in the back.
But, for $25, you get a pillow that can be compressed into the accompanying bag – and they’ve tossed in earplugs and an eye mask so that you really can get a good night’s sleep. Well, at least, so you can get some sleep.
What’s it made of? The memory foam insert is first covered by a mesh layer and then the outer plush velour cover.
What support does it offer? Neck support only.
How do you wash it? The outer cover is machine washable and there’s a zip for removing the memory foam insert which can make cleaning easier.
How big is it? Uncompressed, the pillow measures 11.1 x 10.8 x 3.9”. The travel bag is there to compress the pillow to half the size.
How much does it weigh? 12 oz. That’s definitely on the heavy side for a travel pillow.
What colors are available? Black, blue, purple, brown
Will it break the bank? This pillow sells for about $25 which is perfectly average.
The raised side supports keep your neck in a comfortable position for hours on end and the flat back means you’re not pushed forward from your (hardly reclining) coach seat. Plus, it shrinks to a fraction of its size for storage.
It’s not cheap, but it’s absolutely worth it if you’re flying 8 or 18 hours at a stretch.
So, it doesn’t fall into the snug $20-30 price bracket that most travel neck pillows do. But, that’s because of the delicious support it provides – plus a few other extras to boot.
And we do want to talk about the support first because it’s pretty darn awesome. For a start, the back of the pillow isn’t the thickest part – which tends to make neck pillows uncomfortable on planes. The back is a little flatter. The memory foam is taller around the neck than most pillows and that makes it an absolute delight. Combined with the toggles that snap together, you will definitely get some serious support here.
A few other bonuses include the built-in side pocket to hold your phone or iPod, and the included memory foam earplugs. Plus the compact travel bag that allows you to squash your travel neck pillow into the smallest possible size.
On the downside, this pillow is heavy. It weighs over 11 ounces; if travelling light is a priority, you probably don’t want this pillow. Plus, most people aren’t willing to pay $40 unless they travel frequently or flip across oceans regularly. (And many of those buyers tend to fly business class where neck pillow support is less of an issue. But, you do get a 2-year satisfaction warranty and a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
What’s it made of? The polyurethane memory foam core is covered by soft, cotton (80%) and polyester (20%) blended velour.
What support does it offer? You get 360º support for your head and chin. Plus, the raised side and flat back is perfect for your neck.
How do you wash it? The outer cover is machine washable. If you really need to, you can wipe down the foam insert.
How big is it? At full size this pillow measures 10 x 9.5 x 5". Compressed into its bag, you get a height of 5.5” and a diameter of 4.5” – though you will need to roll it properly. We think that’s a little amazing given the original dimensions.
How much does it weigh? 11.2 oz. That’s on the heavy side.
What colors are available? Black, blue tropic hibiscus, Cabeau blue, camouflage, crimson, grey, orange, pink and red
Will it break the bank? At $40, it’s not the cheapest travel pillow. But, there are plenty of features in addition to the support. Rather than being expensive, we do think this item offers value for money.
This travel neck pillow conforms to various positions, has a clip to attach to your carry on luggage, comes in many colors and is machine washable.
The odd shape can make it uncomfortable to tote around, the entire pillow must be washed, and it’s not necessarily comfortable for those that wear glasses.
The original design for this unusually-shaped travel pillow came from the brain of a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant. You kind of have to give this pillow a second look – just because of that. Many people obviously did as this travel pillow won the 2013 British Invention of the Year Award. Note that the award isn’t a travel industry award, but an overall design and concept one.
And, most people whole-heartedly agree. It’s even managed to win over an anti-neck-pillow travel blogger, who initially was terribly embarrassed to be seen with it. That’s where the biggest downfall of this travel pillow lies – in the way it looks. Well, that, and how difficult it is to smash it into your carry on. Okay, there is a clip to alleviate that by pinning it on your luggage, but it's still a bit awkward to tote.
But, the design is fantastic for support. You can fold it into the position that works best for you – and there is some chin support which most neck pillows don’t offer. One thing to watch out for, however, is the size. While it is a bit bulky, it’s not exactly suited to those with larger necks.
Still, this is our top fave because we're not the only ones that love it; pretty much everyone that tries it falls in love with it – and falls asleep on the plane too. Which is, after all, the point.
What’s it made of? 100% polyester filling is tucked in a plush cover.
What support does it offer? You get maximum head and neck support from the innovative design. Not bad, right?
How do you wash it? Unbelievably, it’s machine washable! But, you need to throw the whole thing in the wash. We recommend putting it in with some old towels so it doesn’t become too misshapen.
How big is it? 11.8 x 7.9 x 13”
How much does it weigh? 7.5 oz, which is on the heavy side of average – as you might expect, given the design.
What colors are available? From Amazon, you can get it in navy (and that’s the cheapest place to buy it). If you’re interested in the other colors and patterns, you can expect to pay more. Those colors are grey, green, zebra, leopard, pink, and red.
Will it break the bank? At about $25, it definitely falls in the average price you can expect to pay. (You really don't want to pay the $60 MSRP - we think that's far too much - so wait until it goes on sale. It will, we promise.)